Kentucky Derby Day marks the first leg in the three-event series known worldwide as the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. The Kentucky Derby is held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky each year on the first Saturday of May. Many traditions, formal and informal, are associated with attendance at the Derby. The Mint Julep became the official drink of the Derby in 1939, though they have been served since the first Derby Day horse race held in 1875. Formal dress for ladies and gentlemen is standard, along with stylish hats often designed especially for the race. Since 1921, Stephen Foster’s song “My Old Kentucky Home” has been sung before the race. Awarding a garland of roses to the winning horse began in 1896.

Churchill Downs racetrack also has an interesting history. The idea for a Louisville Jockey Club was developed by Meriwether Lewis Clark (grandson of William Lewis of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition) around 1872-73. The site leased by Clark was named after Samuel Churchill (1812 – 1890), a prominant attorney and Secretary Of State in Kentucky. The company that operates Churchill Downs has changed names and ownership over the years. The racetrack is currently owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated, a public corporation traded on NASDAQ that operates various racing, wagering and entertainment businesses.

If you can’t make it to the track on Derby Day, hold a watch party with friends and family or look for a sports bar nearby that celebrates the Derby spirit.


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